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Democrat Quits Bridgegate Committee After TV Talk

Bonnie Watson Coleman has stepped down from the legislative committee investigating Bridgegate after a TV appearance in which she called for Gov. Chris Christie to resign over the scandal.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D) with host Al Sharpton on MSNBC's Politics Nation
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D) with host Al Sharpton on MSNBC’s Politics Nation (MSNBC)

Following Thursday’s release of newly-unredacted emails in which former Port Authority appointee David Wildstein and fired deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly joke about creating traffic issues for a rabbi, the Democratic Assemblywoman told MSNBC’s Al Sharpton Christie is responsible for their behavior and should consider resigning.

“This is all the stuff that we’re hearing about all the transactions that are taking place. This is abusiveness,” said Watson Coleman, who represents parts of Hunterdon and Mercer counties. “This is bullying. This is disrespectfulness. That’s the way he has been governing. And the one connecting theme here is that he has hired or caused the hiring of each and every one of them. I’m not saying he has done anything illegal. I’m saying it’s unethical and it is not worthy of New Jersey’s citizens.”

Bridgegate committee chairman John Wisniewski (D) said he agrees with Watson Coleman’s opinion about the attitude of Christie administration members but told the Star-Ledger, “I’m certainly not at that point (of calling for the governor’s resignation.)  But I understand and sympathize with her frustration.”

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R), had called for Watson Coleman to leave the committee, telling the Star-Ledger she  “caught the MSNBC fever.”

Watson Friday night tendered her resignation and stood by her comments. “As we all learn more – particularly with the most recent public release of information surrounding the George Washington Bridge lane closings – about the bully environment and brazen callousness and disrespect this administration has shown toward the people of our state, I have become even more disgusted. In fact, I find it disturbing.”

She also took aim at the presence of Republican State Senator Kevin O’Toole on the committee.”Those who criticize me for speaking my mind should take a long hard look at their hypocrisy and lack of credibility. Questioning my standing while keeping silent on the role one committee member – Sen. O’Toole – played in this situation, as it unfolded, is both inexcusable and dgishonest.” O’Toole is mentioned in emails released about Bridgegate.

In the statement Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen) said he will name a replacement for Watson Coleman on the Bridgegate committee.

Wisniewski has called for Christie’s impeachment over Bridgegate but later tempered his comments. “If it becomes known that the governor was involved and approved (the unannounced lane closures in Fort Lee), that raises serious questions that the Assembly should look at,” Wisniewski said on CBS’ Face the Nation.

Watson Coleman has declared her intention to run as a candidate in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District to replace Rush Holt who will not seek re-election.

 

Full Text of  Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon)’s Resignation

“Anyone who knows me understands I have always served the people of New Jersey with an unfettered passion, especially when it comes to the issues about which I care deeply. I have been consistently outspoken about my belief that working class New Jerseyans have suffered severely during Gov. Christie’s tenure.

“As we all learn more – particularly with the most recent public release of information surrounding the George Washington Bridge lane closings – about the bully environment and brazen callousness and disrespect this administration has shown toward the people of our state, I have become even more disgusted.  In fact, I find it disturbing.

“As someone who has always fought for the causes of hard-working residents like those who were caught and endangered in those purposeful traffic jams, I will not stop being a vocal advocate for what I think is best for the people of our state. 

“Therefore, I have informed Speaker Prieto that I will no longer serve on the Legislative Select Committee on Investigation. I will remain focused on promoting and advancing Democratic legislation and causes. 

“Meanwhile, those who criticize me for speaking my mind should take a long hard look at their hypocrisy and lack of credibility. Questioning my standing while keeping silent on the role one committee member – Sen. O’Toole – played in this situation, as it unfolded, is both inexcusable and dishonest.”

 MORE COVERAGE:

 

  • The Associated Press contributed to this report

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